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Rings Like A Bell...


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Ok, so I found a chunk of old wood in the garage. It's old and dry about 3" thick and when you rap on it with your knuckles it's got a really nice woody "ring" to it.

Sure it's light and some kind of very straight grained, knot free, softwood.

I guess what I'm asking is...how does the "tone" of a piece of wood effect the potential sound of an instrument. Would this piece of timber be a suitable candidate for a solid body? Is the likely fact that it's softwood, leave it out of contention for a suitable tonewood?

psw / pete

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Is the likely fact that it's softwood, leave it out of contention for a suitable tonewood?

psw / pete

In my opinion, no, i've got a lap steel I made from some pine, and a few guitar bodies that are from softwoods, they are pretty good too. some softwoods can make nice sounding guitars, despite what 99% of people say.

I'd use it, cos hey, it didn't cost a cent. so it's worth trying

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In my opinion, the wood the body is made of does effect the guitar's tone, very much so. Lot's of people with tin ears will tell you differently. :D

Also regarding softwood vs. hardwood, some of the "softest" wood is some of the strongest. Take spruce for instance, very soft, very resonant, and also very strong. Dan Erlewine created a one piece guitar out of spruce with no truss rod and the neck does not move with seasonal changes AT ALL (see Dan's forum in the Les Paul forum for details).

I say go for it. Leo Fender made his first Telecaster prototype guitar out of pine.

You may want to try and identify the wood species up front in case it turns out very well.

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In my opinion, the wood the body is made of does effect the guitar's tone, very much so. Lot's of people with tin ears will tell you differently.  :D

I got not tin ears, but if this was true, then most of the renown guitar makers wouldn't spend a cent on mahogany or maple if there was no difference with pine, being that the diffrence in price is more than double. I too had this opinion, before I started making guitars. I was one of the dumb asses that said that the Epi LP was as good as the Gibson, and that all the gibsonwas a overpriced Epi.

On the subject of the wood, what color is it? It sounds a lot like basswood. Soft, bell like tone, and light. But it could be pine too. I don't know about pine, but basswood have been used a lot, as a matter of fact it's the wood of choice for Yngwie's strats.

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Isn't a hardwood technically related to wherther the tree looses it's leaves or something....balsa wood is a hardwood!?

This looks like pine but has no knots and has a very straight grain...kind of like spruce but much wider between grains. Not at all like basswood. Perhaps the ring comes from being well and truely seasoned...it's pretty old but well kept.

I've got a fair bit of california redwood that was taken from my hallway during renovation. I know for a fact that this is a hundred years old and is well and truely a-climatized.

Down here :D you are unlikely to happen upon woods such as Maple and hardwoods that are common over there (where-ever you are) may be hard to get...common kiln dried hardwood here seem to come from Gums even though it has names like Victorian Ash. It's tough and hard with no distinct grain.

This piece of wood has a real nice "ring" to it even though it's a pretty thick block.

pete

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Isn't a hardwood technically related to wherther the tree looses it's leaves or something....balsa wood is a hardwood!?

pete

Yes. Hard & soft woods are not catagorized by their apparent hardness, they are catagorized by their leaves. There are some softwoods that are harder than catagorized hardwoods.

Hardwoods (yes, even balsa is considered a hardwood) loose their leaves in winter. Softwoods don't really have leaves, they have bristles, which stay green all year 'round, and they produce 'cones' as seeds.

Softwoods are used as exellent tone woods more so in acoustic instruments, typically in soundboards.

Could be cedar?

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If you are sure the wood is a softwood and "clean" it might be worth using for acoustic tops. You could get it resawn into thin sections. A source of clean spruce tops is hard to come by. :D Run a plane over it and take a pic, maybe someone can identify what ya got.

And defining hard/soft woods can be a fairly relative term when dealing with woods used in guitar building. Conifers are generally termed softwoods while deciduoud are hardwoods. But speaking specifically of "hardness" of wood they overlap quite a bit. Although balsa is termed a hardwood, its one of the softest hardwoods. And Douglas Fir is one of the harder softwoods.

Hardness varies between species but there is also varying hardness of wood within a species, depending on age and relative growing conditions. An old tree growing in a climate with short growing seasons would yield a tighter grain and harder wood than in a fast growing environment.

They haven't been picking on mahogany, maple, alder, ash and other commonly used guitar woods all these years for nothing. well, maybe mahogany B) . They definitely are tonewoods which is simply possessing good resonance properties for use in musical instruments. Its been discussed many times before about how this works in electric guitars :D (NOOO!! not again!) And their demand is subject to a number of features like esthetics, workability, straightness/tightness of grain, size and straightness of growth, availability and so forth.

Edited by Southpa
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Maiden, I think I may have not made myself clear:

I got not tin ears, but if this was true, then most of the renown guitar makers wouldn't spend a cent on mahogany or maple if there was no difference with pine, being that the diffrence in price is more than double. I too had this opinion, before I started making guitars. I was one of the dumb asses that said that the Epi LP was as good as the Gibson, and that all the gibsonwas a overpriced Epi.

On the subject of the wood, what color is it? It sounds a lot like basswood. Soft, bell like tone, and light. But it could be pine too. I don't know about pine, but basswood have been used a lot, as a matter of fact it's the wood of choice for Yngwie's strats.

It seems you are under the impression that I think that type of wood doesn't matter?

n my opinion, the wood the body is made of does effect the guitar's tone, very much so. Lot's of people with tin ears will tell you differently.

I've added the bold part for clarification and emphasis.

The part about the pine guitar was that it was a prototype and pine is probably a good wood to practice on. Sometimes my points are hard to find (even for me), sorry for the confusion. :D

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OK...here's the wood:

grain1.jpg

and the endgrain:

endgrain.jpg

I'm rather thinking of laminating up the Redwood...I suspect it'll have similar "ringing" qualities.

I'm not really sure what one's looking for in tapping wood, I've never got this kind of sound from tapping hardwood...just bruised knuckles! :D

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My opinion on this is that in an electric guitar, the tone the wood makes when you rap it with your knuckles does NOT affect the tone in a way that we can discern.

How your knuckles feel afterwards DOES.

In other words, the vibrations that are reflected back to the strings are what is going to affect the vibration of the string. The ones that are carried through the wood and cause the wood to "ring" probably bleed off energy from the strings. In an acoustic instrument, this produces the instrument's sound. In an electric, the affect is much different.

This is just a half formed, half arsed theory from a half baked head, though. :D

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Agreed...but on the otherhand...a steel bar would probably absorb little vibrations and prove lifeless. If it was simply a matter of less absorbtion the better we wouldn't have the idea of "tonewoods"...we'd just aim for the material with the least absorbtion of vibration.

What I'm looking for is "character". As the guitar I'm contemplating making will be fitted with my new pickup/sustainer device, I'm not so concerned with the common desire for sustain. I find that guitars like my Les Paul have a little too much sustain for effective and characterful rhythm stuff. A nice fender telecaster or strat with it's vibration robbing bolt on neck and heavily routed top can produce the best of rhythm and fast staccato lead for definition and a seemingly broader tone and dynamic range...just my Op, of course.

pete

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